Microsoft is being sued over its Bing Image Widget

In August, Microsoft released a new tool called the Bing Image Widget that made it easy for publishers to display digital images on their website from Bing. But Getty is not happy with this as they say images can be pulled from databases without proper licensing, which could impact their business.

The short of the argument is that Getty feels that Microsoft has turned the web into a "vast, unlicensed 'clip art' collection" of images and that the tech giant makes no attempt to obtain or recommend the proper license for displaying the images with the widget. Microsoft has acknowledged the suit, and says it is looking into the issue as it takes licensing very seriously.

For Getty, this is a big issue as they lay claim to 80 million unique digital images and if Microsoft is allowing publishers to display these images without a proper license, it cuts into their revenue stream. 

It is not clear whether or not Getty fired off the lawsuit before contacting Microsoft about the issue, or if Microsoft had attempted to brush off Getty's concerns prior to the suit being filed. Of course, filing a lawsuit is an easy way to bring attention to the problem and if Microsoft wasn't taking the complaint seriously before, Getty now has their attention.

We will wait to see how this one plays out but hopefully the two companies can settle things outside the courtroom.

Source: Reuters

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You have to wonder how much of Gettys revenue, comes from publicly posting pictures, watching for their use on web sites, and then going after the sites to pay up for their use.

A few years ago, a company I worked for, paid a third party to develop a web site for us. About two years after the site went live, Getty had it's Lawyers, send us a demand letter asking for tens of thousands of a dollars in damages, asking for over $2K a month for each month the image had been on our site. The third party developer had cropped and used a portion of a picture that our inhouse PR guy took and supplied the developer. However, that did not stop Getty from claiming ownership of the picture.

They are no better than the patent trolls...

...they say images can be pulled from databases without proper licensing

I'm fairly confident that Bing can only pull images that are publicly available. If Getty are hosting images in an unsecured manner that's publicly available, surely that's at least half Getty's fault for not protecting their licensed images? Insurance wouldn't pay out if your car was stolen, but you admitted to leaving the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition... would they?!?

Of course the thief is no less culpable to the crime of theft, but there is a duty to protect your "property" also. But given that anything posted to a "public" internet is already free to share, by implication from the fact that they already posted it to a public location in the first place, then I don't see the issue here.

Still don't like the name 'Bing'
MS change the names of their products so much but they stuck with one and it has no class or style. Sorry for this random comment, I know it has nothing to do with the article.

Look at it this way. I search for something on Bing, and when I find it I always hear that "bing bing bing bing bing!" sound in my head lol

Therefore: Bing! Makes perfect sense to me :D

Wouldn't this apply to all engines? I mean appending "site:gettyimages.com" to a Google search pulls up a metric crapton of images too. They have those robot.txt files and such for a reason too.

Doesn't the burden rely on the person that breached their agreement with Getty by using the tool to post on Bing?

If someone is stealing someone's photo, that Getty has rights too, isn't that person infringing, and Getty has to go after that person specifically?

MS provides the tool to access the content. So if they allow users to bypass legal methods of obtaining data, then they can be held responsible.

Based on "made it easy for publishers to display digital images on their website from Bing". I interrupted as the web site / owner has to actively engaged in using a Bing tool putting the rights.

If it just scrapped and allowed access without active action from the users, I can see Getty's side.